Family Travel Finds, Spring 2014

Paddleboard camp for kids, hiking with llamas, new theme park rides and more By: Chelsee Lowe
Young guests at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti can join research projects and learn Swahili. // © 2014 Four Seasons
Young guests at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti can join research projects and learn Swahili. // © 2014 Four Seasons

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 Learn to paddleboard in Newport Beach. // © 2014 Pirate Coast Paddle Co.

Learn to paddleboard in Newport Beach. // © 2014 Pirate Coast Paddle Co.

 The Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride will open this spring. // © 2014 Univiersal

The Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride will open this spring. // © 2014 Univiersal

 Guests at La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas can choose from six resort pools. // © 2014 Destination Hotels and Resorts

Guests at La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas can choose from six resort pools. // © 2014 Destination Hotels and Resorts

 Paragon Guides’ half-day “Llama to Lunch” tour is great for families. // © 2014 Paragon Guides

Paragon Guides’ half-day “Llama to Lunch” tour is great for families. // © 2014 Paragon Guides

 Shanghai Disney Resort will be home to Disney’s first pirate-themed land. // © 2014 Disney

Shanghai Disney Resort will be home to Disney’s first pirate-themed land. // © 2014 Disney

 Turtle Bay Resort is offering special Mother's Day and Father's Day packages in May and June. // © 2014 Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort is offering special Mother's Day and Father's Day packages in May and June. // © 2014 Turtle Bay Resort

Fun at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Four Seasons properties consistently keep younger guests in mind, and the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti is no exception. The property, located within Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, has an array of services and programming available through its Kijana Klub, which opened last fall.

In addition to indoor entertainment options such as arts and crafts and foosball, the club offers the complimentary Kid’s for All Seasons Program, which strives to educate children about African culture and wildlife under the guidance of lodge staff and wildlife experts. African storytelling, Swahili language lessons and nature walks along the lodge’s walkways are just a few of the offerings through the program. Another highlight is the Maasai for the Morning program, led by a Maasai Warrior who will teach participants about various bush skills, from making a toothbrush from a tree to using plants for medicine.

Another on-site perk is the Discovery Center, a museum-like space where guests of all ages can get involved with research projects and conservation efforts. For example, shutterbugs might snap photos of cheetahs and then submit them to the Serengeti Cheetah Project, which monitors the park’s cheetah population and identifies individual animals through their unique spot patterns.
www.fourseasons.com

Paddleboarding with Pirate Coast Paddle Co.
There’s no better way to beat the summer heat than to spend time in the waves, and Pirate Coast Paddle Co. in Newport Beach offers outings, lessons, rentals and kids’ camps to help families do just that. Groups can take in the Southern California sunset on the Paddle & Popcorn tour, which includes a sunset paddle followed by a family-friendly movie on the beach. There’s also the “SUP Glow Night” tour, which takes participants out into the bay atop paddleboards illuminated with waterproof LED lights. Larger parties familiar with stand-up paddleboarding might opt to rent SUP Squatch, a giant paddleboard that fits up to 10 people — countless laughs guaranteed.

For visitors in town for more than just a weekend this summer, Pirate Coast’s week-long kids’ camp is a great way to help young travelers (ages 7 to 12) improve their paddleboarding skills. Camp is held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, and each day focuses on a different skill, from balance and control to paddle etiquette.

“You will not get a better customer service experience at any other paddleboard operation in Orange County,” said Tim Lukei, owner of Pirate Coast Paddle Co. “We care about people, we care about families and we love our community. The calm waters here make for the ideal kid-friendly place to learn to SUP and our Kid’s Pirate Paddle Camp makes me wish I was a kid again. Participants absolutely love it — it’s not uncommon for parents to sign up their kids for a second session.”
www.piratecoastpaddle.com

Movie-Themed Rides from Universal
Universal is ready to impress theme park guests with new attractions, including the Despicable Me ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando Resort. In response to the popularity of the “Despicable Me” films, Universal Studios Hollywood debuted the adventurous 3D Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction on April 12. The attration takes guests through Gru’s house and his villainous laboratory, and Gru’s daughters and the Minions entertain riders along the way. Adjacent to the ride is the new Super Fun Silly Land, an interactive space with splash pools, play structures and another themed ride.

Meanwhile, Universal Orlando Resort is preparing for the summer opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, and new details regarding Hogwarts Express have been revealed. Guests who have purchased park-to-park admission can ride the train to and from Universal Studios Florida and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. Through live special effects, animation and technology, riders will see Hagrid on his flying motorbike, the Weasley twins atop brooms and more. The Universal Creative team kept true to the books in every way possible, creating a full-scale train — complete with a whistle and billowing steam  — to transport Muggles to their favorite fantasy land.
www.universalstudios.com

Escape with Destination Hotels & Resorts
In a continued effort to create authentic experiences for travelers, Destination Hotels & Resorts (DHR) has launched Destination Family Escapes, a thoughtfully curated collection of family-friendly itineraries at 29 of the brand’s properties across the U.S. Each package incorporates the art, culture and history of the location through hands-on experiences and adventures.

Among DHR’s diverse family offerings is the Mini-Monet Family Vacation at The Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C. The package includes four tickets to The Phillips Collection, a private art gallery that houses works by Mark Rothko, Georgia O’Keeffe and more; a two-hour pass to public art studio ArtJamz, where guests can paint their own canvases; and four metro passes. Another option is the Hidden Passages Adventure Tour at the hilltop La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas. On this vacation, guests will don helmets in order to experience a Texas treasure — the Natural Bridge Caverns. Later, travelers can relax by the resort pool or with a treatment at the Castle Rock Spa. More details on these and other packages are available online.
www.destinationhotels.com/familyescapes

Llama Trekking in Vail with Paragon Guides
Vail, Colo. is a world-famous ski destination, but a summer trip to the Rocky Mountains can be just as memorable — especially when families team up with Paragon Guides, a local tour operator with more than 40 years of field experience. Summer adventures available through Paragon include rock climbing, mountaineering and backcountry fly fishing, but families are sure to enjoy the company’s unique llama trekking tour. Groups can opt for the half-day “Llama to Lunch” hike, climbing through alpine woods alongside a furry friend carrying their gear, or plan a three-to-five day journey along part of the Colorado Trail. On these longer llama treks, hikers walk five to eight miles per day and overnight in mountain huts.
www.paragonguides.com

Shanghai Disney Resort's Treasure Cove
Construction of Shanghai Disney Resort is well underway, and recently The Walt Disney Company announced that the park will be home to the first-ever pirate-themed land. Treasure Cove will feature a new Pirates of the Caribbean attraction designed specially for Shanghai Disney Resort. On the technologically advanced Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure ride, park-goers will adventure alongside Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Davy Jones, making it a great attraction for fans of the feature films.

“We are extremely proud of all the work that will bring the Shanghai Disney Resort to life,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We are excited to re-imagine the iconic world and characters of Pirates for the first time as an entire land that celebrates the creativity, imagination and adventure of both the favorite attraction and the popular film franchise.”

Escape to Turtle Bay Resort this Mother's or Father's Day
With the demands of everyday life and the challenges parents face raising kids in today’s fast-paced world, it is no wonder Mom and Dad need some time to decompress from the daily routine. In honor of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Turtle Bay Resort is offering two special packages meant to deliver rejuvenation, restoration and relaxation.

The “May is for Mom” package, available throughout the month of May, includes a three-night stay in a newly renovated ocean-view room, dinner for two at Paakai, which features sea-to-table cuisine, and a Nalu Kinetic Spa package. Mom will also enjoy welcome amenities such as freshly made chocolate-dipped macaroons, a fresh lei greeting and a bottle of champagne.

The resort’s “June is for Dads” package is available throughout June and includes a round of golf on the Palmer Golf Course, a semi-private surf or stand-up paddleboard lesson and dinner for two at Paakai. Accommodations are for two people and include a $200 food and beverage credit.
www.turtlebayresort.com

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